Edwards AFB Goes ‘Hybrid’ for First Air Show in Over a Decade

Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., had scheduled its first on-base air show in 11 years to take place in October 2020. Then the coronavirus pandemic intervened.

COVID-19 has forced Airmen across the country to get creative in hosting air shows, as everything from concerts to medical appointments move online to avoid gathering crowds. The 412th Test Wing at Edwards is no different.

In response to this year’s unique challenges, Edwards this week is hosting the Aerospace Valley Hybrid Air Show, wing spokesman and air show executive director Ed Buclatin said in an email.

Edwards is home to the Air Force Test Center, which manages test and evaluation of major aircraft programs like the secretive B-21 bomber and upgrades to existing platforms.

Instead of bringing crowds of schoolchildren to base, Edwards is pairing real demonstrations with a large virtual outreach program to encourage science, technology, engineering, and math education in southern California. The hybrid show includes virtual lessons for area students in kindergarten through 12th grade students, as jets fly over the base and nearby cities.

Participating aircraft include the T-38 training jet; F-16, F-22, F-35, and F/A-18 fighter jets; B-52 and B-1 bombers; C-12, C-17, and C-20 airlifters; the KC-135 tanker; and the ER-2, NASA’s variant of the U-2 spy plane.

Programming began with online teaching on Oct. 5, offering unique lessons on the laws of physics and practical applications of aerospace math.

“Students will build a paper airplane and calculate the triangular area of the wings, then test and calculate the accuracy of their aircraft’s flight,” the air show said on Facebook.

Flyovers are scheduled for Oct. 9-10.

“The hybrid program will ‘bring the air show to the people,’ rather than people to the air show,” Buclatin said.